Is Allan Saint-Maximin wasted in Newcastle's new system?
Getty Images/Newcastle United

Newcastle United's performance against Southampton F.C highlighted a serious issue; their best player doesn't fit their system. 

What is his new role exactly?

For Newcastle's game against Wolverhampton Wanderers, Steve Bruce completely overhauled his team's system; moving to a 5-3-1-1 formation.

Crucially, this formation uses wing-backs instead of conventional wingers, meaning Saint-Maximin has been shifted away from his natural position on the left of midfield. 

The 23-year-old was therefore moved into a second-striker role, behind Newcastle's talisman Callum Wilson. 

Bruce hoped that this would allow the Frenchman the opportunity to drive through the heart of defences, emulating his stunning solo effort against Burnley.

Unfortunately, he's been nothing short of obsolete in this new central role, cutting a frustrated figure in each of his last three appearances. 

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What do the stats say? 

Saint-Maximin's creative output has dramatically dropped since he moved into this central role. (All stats from FBRef.com)

First of all, his number of SCA (Shot Creating Actions such as passes, shots, drawing fouls) per game have considerably declined. 

For example, he averaged at least three SCA per game as a winger, but he's currently averaging just one per game as a second striker.

In fact, his GCA (Goal Creating Actions) were at a promising one per game in his first four games of the season. Unsurprisingly, he's now averaging zero GCA per game. 

The most damning statistics of all are his xG (Expected Goals) and xA (Expected Assists) per game - as both fell to a pitiful 0.0 in The Magpies 2-0 loss to Southampton F.C. 

Essentially, Saint-Maximin isn't impacting Newcastle's offence at all in this new role. 

Steve Bruce's conundrum

These stats show that the new system is not a suitable fit for Saint-Maximin, and his performances have been turgid as a result. However, Bruce  simply will not drop his star man. 

It's also relatively unlikely that Bruce shifts away from the 5-3-1-1 formation, as it is the only formation that has brought his side some degree of structure - and more importantly - results. 

However, Saint-Maximin is pivotal to Newcastle's success. Bruce himself has labelled the attacker a 'game winner' and therefore it's imperative that he finds a way to make him effective once again.

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